Thursday, April 3, 2014

Thoughts on Chromebooks

Thoughts on Chromebooks

It was a rough start with the devices.  We started the semester off having a ton of issues with network connections.  Our tech. department was a huge help in resolving these issues.  Since fixing this problem the devices have worked as advertised.  Below is a list in no particular order of my reactions to these devices:
  • Slow - The devices as a whole are very slow.  I will give you that they boot up very fast within 10 seconds but when switching between windows or loading Google drive they slow way down.  Sometimes the device would mysteriously close windows when loading to many panes.  
  • App Issues - There are a ton of apps and scripts for the device some good some bad.  One difference between Apple's app store and Google's is that the apps for the iPad are true apps.  Some of the advertised apps in the Google Play store are not really apps but links to websites.  I do love the concept of scripts and have found several of them very helpful.  They are not always the easiest to find or use initially and for a common user not friendly.  
  • The device that was chosen is not the most sturdy of devices.  We have had several mouse pad issues.  The concept of the device I like a lot.  A device that can be customized per user that is completely cloud based is very interesting.
  • Simplicity of use - The device itself is very easy to use.  It took very little time to teach the students how to use and navigate the device.  From a teacher's standpoint I feel like this is a huge plus over the iPad.  Some areas I would like to see improved on is the ability to install scripts and apps on the student devices.  
  • Creativity - I feel like I had it out for these devices from the start because I had such a great experience with the iPads.  One of my dislikes of these devices is that they do not lend themselves to creativity.  I feel like the students could very easily be creative with iPads.  You can do almost anything on a Chromebook that you can do on an iPad but there are a lot more steps to go through.  
Overall I feel that the Chromebooks are great devices because of their simplicity.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Post Psychology Fair

Psychology Fair infused with a lot of technology was a huge success!
  • We expected 1490 students to come to the fair. 
  • We had 3527 QR code scans.  Not as many as we hoped but a great start for our first year. 
  • We had 4834 Google form entries used at different booths. 
  • We had 872 paper surveys given.  This is way down from previous years which equates to a huge paper savings.   We are estimating that we saved around 8,000 sheets of paper this year.  We are looking to improve next year, our goal being 0 sheets of paper used.  
 Here are the numbers to pull this off:
  • 30 Chromebooks
  • 30 laptops
  • 18 iPhones
  • 29 separate QR codes.  1 for each experiment.  

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

QR Codes and Psychology Fair

QR Codes and Psychology Fair

This year in an effort to cut down on the use of paper in Psychology Fair we have embarked on a QR code adventure.  Each experiment (29 in all) has QR Code check in points as part of their experiment.  Each participant will use their phone to "check-in."  The codes will then redirect the participants to a Google Form that the groups have put together to ask their surveys or what not. 

  • We will save around 15,000 sheets of paper!
  • Will help simplify data entry for post fair data analysis.  Currently it takes around 2 days for group to enter all their data into Exel for data analysis.  By using Google Forms this step has been done automatically for them.   
  • Participants will hopefully thing it is fun to use their phones in a school approved fashion, helping to create a digital citizenship experience.
  • Praying that the network can handle the traffic.  We are expecting around 1,500 participants over a 6 hour period.  Plus the over 60 Chromebooks and laptops that will be connected to the network to carry out the experiments.  We have a few copies of the surveys on paper if we need them. 
  • Participants utter lack or preparedness.  We have around 400 freshman coming to the fair.  I fear that they and others will not know what a QR is or how to use it.  I have done a lot of training with my students (experimenter) about how to help participants with their tech issues.  
If you are interested in following along with the experiments you can view their blog at the following website:



Today we used a new game website called Kahoot to  help review for our unit test.  I have always struggled with finding a game that causes the students to be motivated to play.  This game follows a lot of the same principles as "Bar Trivia" games which award points for correct answer and how fast your respond.  My classes loved it and got very involved.  We had a lot of trash talking about who would win.  It was great to see learning going on in a fun environment.  

Monday, March 3, 2014

Psychology Fair

Psychology Fair

All Chromebooks are now up and running with no problems.  We have just started our major project of the semester which is Psychology Fair.  Basically a month long constructive project that allows my students to prove to me and the school what they have learned about psychology.  You can check out my students journey here:  Psychology Fair Blogspot

Thank you to Joe Geiger for helping to organize this short synapses:

What is Psychology Fair?
The fair is a carnival of demonstrations, surveys, and, experiments related to the many different topics in psychology. The student-directed fair involves a multitude of ideas that define the many facets of psychology. For example, they may have materials related to memory, the brain, learning, and/or social psychology. Psychology students' design stations or learning areas that people can visit and try the hands-on materials. The many booths expose people to psychological topics, experiments, and the scientific procedure that is the backbone for the fair. People who participate in the booths receive tokens. Psychology students tabulate the results and summarize their findings. People (other students, parents, school board members, administration, brothers and sisters) who attend the fair not only learn about the field of psychology but also about themselves and other people. 

The objectives of the fair are to
Y Give psychology students experience using the scientific method
Y Give psychology students an opportunity to explore different interests in psychology
Y Give psychology students an exposure to different demonstrations, surveys, and experiments
Y Give psychology students an opportunity to demonstrate psychological materials
Y Give psychology students an opportunity to learn independently
Y Give psychology students an opportunity to recreate textbook information
Y Give exposure to a psychology course and program
Y Give parents an opportunity to see children's efforts in psychology class
Y Give school board members an opportunity to see student directed learning
Y Give students an opportunity to conduct an activity on a grander scale than just in the classroom
Y Give visiting students an opportunity to learn about psychology
Y Expose academic psychology to the media (newspaper and cable TV)
Y Expose the school and its programs to visiting people

Basic Ideas about the Fair
A.                Students are allowed about three weeks from the start of the project until the conclusion of the fair.
B.                 Students need to select a demonstration, survey, and/or experiment that allows for a hands-on experience. It should also be one in which other students, parents, and school officials can learn something about academic psychology.
C.                 Students design materials needed for the activity. These would include interactive materials for the activity as well as a way to tabulate and summarize the findings.
D.                Students design a three-piece accordion style cardboard backdrop that is related to the activity.
E.                 Students practice conducting the activity in class before the psychology fair.

History of the Psychology Fair
Mr. Joe Geiger and Mr. Desi Vuillaume teach Psychology at Carl Sandburg High School. The Psych Fair began several years ago by Jim Matiya and has been an annual event. There are over 3,000 students at Carl Sandburg. One day in May is taken in which classes are invited to the fair. The Psychology students have taken projects and collect data on the day of the fair. A little over 1,000 people go through the doors of the gym by 2:00. After the fair they summarize their data and write a formal paper.

A Selection of experiments, surveys, and demonstrations
There are several books available for people who are interested in classroom activities. Many of these ideas can be converted for use at a psychology fair. Teacher's guides seem to work the best because they tend to contain activities based on studies found in journals. These psychologists have devised and tested these activities and demonstrations the bestThese books are also preferred because the students have fewer decisions to make. Students have been known to waste time. Just deciding to decide can be a problem. By providing them with possible activities, they simply have less to decide. The introduction material is projected to be completed and typed within two weeks. With such a time constraint, the decision making process needs to be concise and limited. Also, if high school age students are allowed to devise their own projects, they would solve all the world's problem. The prepared projects have been honed down and prepared to help with these problems. Often, these books provide step-by-step directions to help the students. The time factor is also important for everyone. These books contain ideas that will work in a psychology fair. These books contain the best ideas for helping students decide what to do and when.

Books of experiments, surveys, and demonstrations
Benjamin, L.T., and Lowman, K.D.,eds. (1981) Activities Handbook for the Teaching of Psychology.
Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.

Makosky, V.P., Whittmore, L. & Rogers, A., eds. (1987). Activities Handbook for the teaching of psychology.,  
Vol.2. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.

Makosky, V.P., Whittmore, L. & Rogers, A., eds. (1990). Activities Handbook for the teaching of psychology.,
Vol.3. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.

Kincher, J. (1990). Psychology for kids. Minneapolis, MN. Free Spirit Publishing.

Kincher, J. (1995). Psychology for kids, (2nd ed.). Minneapolis, MN. Free Spirit Publishing.

Kohn, A.(1993). Instructor's resource guide for Kalat's Introduction to psychology (3rd edition). Belmont,
California. Wadsworth, Inc.

Bolt, M. (1992). Instructor's resources for use with Myer's Psychology (3rd ed.). New York. Worth Publishers.

Bolt, M. (1995). Instructor's resources for use with Myer's Psychology (4th ed.). New York. Worth Publishing.

Chrome and 1:1 Integration Presentation

Chrome and 1:1 Integration Presentation

Slide Presentation on Chrome and 1:1 Integration

Friday, February 7, 2014

Google Training

Google Training 2-7-14

Just a quick review of learned material from 2-7-14 PD

Google Connected Classrooms: Bring the world into your classroom using Google+
Google Connected Classrooms
Google Connected Classrooms allow teachers and students to go on Virtual Field Trips for free.  100's of reputable providers have created field trips but teachers and students can also create their own.  Some key features.  When used live you can have remote video playing of a presenter with a Q and A session running on the side.

Google Hangouts and Google Air:  Both of these are similar in function.  Google Hangouts seems to have some great use when it comes to collaboration between teachers from different schools, countries, etc.  The possibilities seem to be endless.  Once you start you will find that you can share video, screens, pictures, voice, and much more.  I think this is a much more useful tool then Skype.  You also have the ability to record the entire experience for use at a later date.

Google Sites:  A Google product that allows you to quickly create websites.  For novice users this is a great resource if you are looking to put together a website but do not want to learn HTML.  How do I access this?  Once you create a site you are able to edit the site very easily.  The edit feature looks similar to a Google Doc

Getting Sand Everywhere:  Website that lists different Scripts that can be used in Google Drive to help make your life a little easier.

The Learning Revolution Project:  A great resource that curates technology related professional development courses and events for teachers all in one source.  The best feature from this site is the ability to embed the sites Google Calendar into your own personal calendar.

A nice document put together by Mike Geraghty explaining different apps and extensions.

D230 Learning Mobile Explorations:  A Google Site created by Lucy Gray as a history of the 1:1 process through the 2013-2014 school year.